Trump to meet with members of Congress after summit criticism

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There has been a barrage of criticism in the U.S. after President Donald Trump defended Russian Federation over claims of interference in the 2016 elections.

Protesters rally outside the White House in Washington, US on Monday after US President Donald Trump's return from Helsinki, Finland.

Standing alongside the Kremlin boss at a joint news conference, Trump acknowledged that his intelligence chiefs believe Russian Federation hacked and leaked Democrats' emails containing politically damaging information about his rival Hillary Clinton in 2016. Even its choreography allowed Putin to claim a victory, down to the vehicle that whisked him through Helsinki's shuttered streets.

On Monday the United States and Russian presidents held almost two hours of one-on-one talks without their advisers in the Finnish capital Helsinki. Now that same approach is allowing Putin to make common cause with the president of the United States to spurn the determination of American intelligence agencies and deny a USA special counsel's findings.

"President Putin says it's not Russian Federation. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be".

Mr Trump also blamed poor relations with Russia on past U.S. administrations rather than Russian actions.

How did it play at home?

"Russia and the United States control 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world, and getting along with Russian Federation, and not only for that reason, is a good thing, not a bad thing".

Standing alongside Putin, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week's federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant". It allowed the Russian president to avoid the opprobrium of the world's most powerful country over election meddling and other issues that have riled the West.

In a series of tweets, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump's actions had "strengthened our adversaries while weakening our defences and those of our allies".

And former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan said Trump's behavior at the news conference "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous".

Yet Trump appeared to take Putin's word in dismissing that conclusion.

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Meanwhile, Vice-President Mike Pence defended the summit and praised President Trump.

The pair had held lengthy talks before - on the sidelines of world leader meetings in Germany and Vietnam a year ago - but this was their first official summit and was being watched closely, especially following the announcement Friday of new indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Democratic emails to help Trump's campaign.

After Monday's news conference, Putin supporters in Russian Federation were quick to lavish praise on Trump. Obliquely referencing Putin gifting the Commander-in-Chief a soccer ball, she said, "Trump was so impotent, it's no wonder he leaves the Russian summit with one ball".

From the Kremlin's perspective, however, the project of improving US-Russian relations is only beginning.

Trump stunned United States political allies and foes alike with his answer to a question about Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 election which saw him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

However, Mr Turnbull said he agreed with Mr Putin when he said "you shouldn't trust anybody".

European allies are uneasy.

Russia's foreign ministry tweeted in response: "We agree".

Coats' statement was seen as an uncommonly brusque pushback by the U.S. intelligence community against the White House.

Mr Putin described the Helsinki meeting as "candid and useful" while Mr Trump said there had been "deeply productive dialogue".

In a post-summit interview with Fox News, Putin said US-Russia relations should not be held "hostage" to "internal political games", referring to the Mueller probe.

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